Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Halligen

The Halligen is a region of North Frisian Islands (Nord Friesland) located north of Hamburg along Germany's North Sea (Nordsee) coast. The land and sea is subject to the tides and weather. There is a lot of sand and peat and rock is made up of sandstone plus other sedimentary rock layers, all easily at the mercy of the elements. The prevailing winds in the colder months of the year come out of the northwest effecting the storm tides. There are a number of national parks along the sea coast to preserve the flora and fauna for future generations. In the planning stages of a trip to Europe in the summer of 1972, this region had been on my list of destinations but because of time restrictions, I had to drop the Halligen from my list to await a future trip. At that time, the island of Sylt was on the list as far as the Halligen is concerned.
The maps above shows the Halligen as it was in 1650 and the map below is of Rungholt as it was in the 14th century before a severe storm washed it and neighbouring parishes away in 1362 A.D. Another severe storm in 1634 A.D. washed even more away (remember the sand, peat and the action wind and water has on them?). Legends have been written about these lost towns and villages that disappeared in the sea. Perhaps I'll do a Google search to see whether I can find some of them to post later.

Above is part of a map from 1650 A.D. and below one from 1858 A.D. Note the changes!

One way to control the action the climate has on the land is to dike up parcels of land and build windmills to pump out the water as has been the case in the Netherlands and across northern Germany. The diagram of a windmill that is found in Britz in west Berlin. Another way to protect homes and other structures is to throw up earth to form a raised "Hallig" where there are no protective dikes in place. This is the case in the North Frisian Islands of the Halligen. The photo below illustrates one such Hallig.
Below is the style of home or building that is fairly typical of the region, complete with thatched rooves. Note the brick: since sand and clay is easily available as a construction material, this would make logical sense. All illustrations and photos in this post are from Wikipedia and are in the public domain. Perhaps some day I'll have some photos of my own to add but these will serve as illustrations on the matter for the moment.


Erin said...

Hi! I’m the Community Manager of We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about Germany, and we think that yours is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from blogs like yours (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at
Thanks! :)

Volker said...

I'll contact you private via the email address provided to discuss this further. There is so much more I can offer that has not appeared on this blog yet nor on my other blog at